On the outskirts of Florence sits Villa di Castello, country home of Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519-1574), Grand Duke of Tuscany. Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Primavera once adorned the walls of the villa, and Castello’s elaborate garden — renowned throughout Europe — influenced other famous gardens including Florence’s Boboli Gardens.
Villa di Castello has seen a number of changes since the Medici died out in 1737. It has functioned as a school, a hospital, even a dorm for gardeners, but today it serves a most noble Italian organization, the Accademia della Crusca.
La Crusca is a historic society, founded in Florence in 1582 with the mission of “cleaning up” the Italian language. Literally translated as the Academy of the Bran, the organization “has been characterized by its efforts to maintain the purity of the Italian language.” As one separating wheat would discard the bran, so too does La Crusca, “straining out corrupt words and structures” from the Italian language. La Crusca continues today as the “most important research institution on Italian language as well as the oldest linguistic academy in the world.” (source)
Oh how I would love to add La Crusca’s biblioteca to my list of beautiful libraries/bookstores I have visited, but alas, I don’t believe this room (nor any part of the villa) is open to the public. The gardens, however, are free and accessible. Visitor information here.
Resources and further reading: Wikipedia (La Crusca), Wikipedia (Villa di Castello), Accademia della Crusca, Visit Florence, Becoming Italian Word by Word
Image Credits: Villa #1, Villa #2, La Crusca Library
4 Comments Add yours
Too bad that library isn’t open, but ah that garden! Italian gardens really get me with their potted citrus plants and their geometric parterres.
Wonderful post. I had always thought Italians were happy to accept words and phrases from other languages into their own – English and French come to mind. But there is also a place for maintaining proper grammar in any language. I just never knew there was an Italian institution to do this!
Beautiful library, but I think the ship has sailed on the purity of the Italian language. Watching Italian TV, it seems as though the announcers and commentators are tripping over themselves to insert English vocabulary into their speech. Perhaps the Accademia will be able to contain it a bit.